YEAR IN REVIEW: Dr. Aaron Shirley dies - - Jackson, MS

YEAR IN REVIEW: Dr. Aaron Shirley dies

Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - As the year 2014 comes to a close, we take a look at some of the top news makers and events of the year. One such story is the passing of a medical pioneer and champion of human and civil rights, Dr. Aaron Shirley.

Dr. Shirley will be remembered for many things, especially his passion for justice, like this comment on the poor grades received by the Jackson Public School district.

"If we reversed the racial makeup of the school board, superintendent, mayor, they were all white, we would be raising holy hell," said Dr. Shirley.

But it was the field of medicine and health care where the Gluckstadt native and Tougaloo College graduate broke major ground. He was the first African American pediatric resident at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in 1965 and for a period, the only black pediatrician in the Mississippi. 

In 1970, Dr. Shirley helped establish the Jackson Hinds Comprehensive Health Center...which became a model for federally funded community health centers nationwide. His sincere concern for the poor and under served was ever present, even challenging metro area churches to help battle Mississippi's obesity problem.

"At the end of 12 months, let's have a grand finale here at the mall," said Dr. Shirley.

The mall he refers to is the Jackson Medical Mall. In 1995, his efforts helped transform the nearly abandoned and deteriorating Jackson Mall into the one stop health care facility for the under served it has become today. 

A 1993 recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship, also known as the genius award, Dr. Shirley even traveled to Iran to evaluate a health care program that could be used to improve conditions in the Mississippi Delta. 

Dr. Aaron Shirley died November 26. His body lay in repose at the old Capitol, December 5th, where hundreds of admirers paid their final respects. He was 81-years-old.

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